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CrisisWatch Database

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Mexico

  |  1 Apr 2015

Unchanged

President Enrique Peña Nieto 2 March said capture of Knights Templar cartel leader Servando “La Tuta” Gomez in Michoacán state late Feb confirmed govt’s security policies were working. Violence in region continued: councilman from leftist Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) found 1 March in municipal garbage dump, two weeks after disappearing; navy admiral killed 4 March in port city Lázaro Cárdenas. Judge 11 March ordered release of two rival vigilante group leaders arrested Dec 2014 in Michoacán state; both vowed to keep fighting if attacked by rival group. Federal forces 4 March captured Omar Treviño aka Z-42, leader of “Los Zetas” drug cartel, in wealthy Monterrey suburb. Govt troops 5 March arrested some 14 federal police officers on charges of kidnapping in Ciudad Victoria, capital of Tamaulipas state. PRD leader running for mayor of Ahuacuotzingo, Guerrero, found decapitated 10 March, day after kidnap by armed group. Five members of elite gendarmerie unit killed 19 March in ambush in western Jalisco state. Hundreds of farmworkers arrested in clashes over ongoing strike for better conditions in border state Baja California. UN report published early-March concluded use of torture to obtain confessions remains widespread among Mexican security forces. Senate approved nomination of Eduardo Medina Mora to Supreme Court; critics said appointment of controversial former intelligence chief would undermine judicial independence.

Haiti

  |  1 Apr 2015

Unchanged

President Martelly 13 March approved election calendar proposed by Provisional Electoral Council (CEP). Despite criticism from opposition parties, some 192 parties and movements 16-20 March registered to participate in parliamentary elections to be held 9 August, local and presidential elections 25 Oct, possible run-off elections 27 Dec. Ambassador of Haiti to UN Denis Regis 18 March expressed concerns over renewed insecurity as threat to election process, requested reassessment of MINUSTAH’s timetable for withdrawal of military troops, set to be reduced by half by summer, although some additional police and helicopters have been authorised but not deployed. Organisation of American States (OAS) SG José Miguel Insulza 24 March reiterated willingness to deploy election observation mission. Platform of Haitian Human Rights Organisations 24 March expressed concern over increased insecurity amid spike in attacks targeting Catholic nuns and churches. FM met with Dominican Republic counterpart 27 March to discuss temporary program to legalise at least 200,000 Haitians, but fears remain about impact of discriminatory legislation against Dominican nationals of Haitian origin.

Guatemala

  |  1 Apr 2015

Unchanged

U.S. VP Biden 2 March met with presidents of Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras to discuss aid package aiming to stem undocumented migration to U.S.; stressed support for extending mandate of International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG). President Pérez Molina 4 March said govt would not accept “impositions” in return for additional funding. Three journalists killed in SW 10 and 13 March, underscoring insecurity in region. Director of Prensa Libre 12 March said Danilo López, one of slain journalists, had received threats related to his reporting on municipal corruption.

Colombia

  |  1 Apr 2015

Improved

33rd round of talks between govt and FARC ended 7 March with agreement on joint humanitarian demining scheme; implementation initially to focus on Meta and Antioquia. President Santos 10 March ordered 30-day suspension of bombardments on guerrilla camps; move helped bolster FARC’s unilateral ceasefire amid ongoing counter-insurgency operations, including 9 March killing of José David Suárez alias Becerro, leader of 57th Front. Five high-ranking members of armed forces 5 March joined “technical sub-commission” tasked with preparing bilateral ceasefire, FARC disarmament. 34th cycle of govt-FARC negotiations ended 27 March with discussion focused on transitional justice. In nod to FARC, Santos 6 March denied extradition to U.S. of paramilitary leader Julián Bolívar, citing his collaboration with truth telling, reconciliation, justice; also suspended extradition of Manuel Pérez Martínez alias El Cura, brother of FARC negotiating team member Fabían Ramírez. In response to recent spate of attacks, Santos 10 March announced intensified operations against ELN; group blamed, inter alia, for 12 March bomb attack on police in Bogotá that left seven wounded. ELN 16 March accused govt of violating confidentiality rules governing ongoing exploratory talks; in positive gesture, liberated four kidnapped geologists 10 March. Two leading figures from Conservative Party, Andrés Pastrana and Marta Lucía Ramírez, accepted Santos’ invitation to join newly created Peace Advisory Commission early March. Constitutional Court president Jorge Pretelt 4 March temporarily vacated position amid growing scandal involving allegations he had requested money in return for influencing court decision; also alleged to own land that is part of restitution claim by victims of paramilitary displacement. Santos 24 March proposed wide-ranging judicial reform in light of scandal.

Venezuela

  |  1 Apr 2015

Unchanged

U.S. President Obama 9 March signed executive decree declaring Venezuela “exceptional threat” to U.S. national security; announced sanctions against seven officials including senior military officers. President Maduro same day appointed one of seven, director of National Intelligence Service (Sebin) Maj. Gen. Gustavo González López, interior minister; launched “anti-imperialist” campaign, including extensive military exercises; and demanded revocation of Obama’s decree, which he claimed is prelude to invasion. UNASUR 14 March issued statement requesting derogation of U.S. decree, describing it as “threat of interference against sovereignty”. National Assembly 16 March passed law enabling Maduro to legislate by decree until 31 Dec, purportedly to defend country against foreign intervention. Former Spanish PM Gonzales announced he will advise Leopoldo Lopez and Antonio Ledezma during their prosecutions.

Mexico

  |  2 Mar 2015

Unchanged

UN Committee on Enforced Disappearances 13 Feb criticised authorities for failing to prevent or investigate forced disappearances including kidnappings linked to police and military forces. Tensions in Guerrero state over Sept disappearance of 43 students continued, including clashes with police 24 Feb in resort town Acapulco that left one person dead. Over 30 reportedly died in first three weeks of Feb in shootouts between security forces and rival criminal gangs in Tamaulipas state. President Peña Nieto 3 Feb appointed political ally Virgilio Andrade Martinez as head of civil service, functions include overseeing investigations into corruption and conflicts of interest including current scandals involving president’s family and finance secretary. Police 28 Feb arrested Servando “La Tuta” Gomez, leader of Knights Templar drug cartel, in Michoacan state.

  • Crisis Group Latin America Report N°54, Back from the Brink: Saving Ciudad Juárez, 25 Feb. 2015. For lessons on crime prevention, Mexico can look to the example of Ciudad Juárez, the world’s “murder capital” in 2008-2010. Government and citizens worked together to bring violence down by strengthening local law enforcement and addressing socio-economic inequalities. These initiatives should be monitored, refined and expanded if Mexico is to overcome its country-wide crisis of confidence at all levels.
  • “UN report criticizes Mexico on enforced disappearances”, AP, 13 Feb. 2015.

Haiti

  |  2 Mar 2015

Unchanged

Provisional Electoral Council proposed legislative elections in July, presidential in October; opposition parties protested lack of consultation, President Martelly yet to issue executive decree confirming dates. Police 9 Feb violently dispersed anti-govt demonstrators in capital Port-au-Prince protesting delayed elections, high fuel prices. Minibus union early Feb called two-day strike to protest high fuel prices. Resurgence of gang violence in Cité Soleil continued, at least eight killed in second half of month.

Guatemala

  |  2 Mar 2015

Unchanged

President Pérez Molina and El Salvador President Sánchez Cerén 5 Feb agreed to create high-level bilateral commission on security and justice to combat organised crime; also promised to boost economic growth through infrastructure investments. Civil-society organisations 1 Feb called for extension of International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala’s (CICIG) mandate, due to expire Sept 2015.

Colombia

  |  2 Mar 2015

Unchanged

33rd cycle of govt-FARC negotiations began 25 Feb. Previous round of talks saw first meeting of joint “technical sub-commission” on “the end of the conflict” 4 Feb. Negotiators 10 Feb received delayed final report of Historical Commission on the Conflicts and its Victims: no consensus on origins or causes of conflict, but FARC praised 800-page report for ending “official distortion” of history. FARC 12 Feb announced minimum recruitment age raised from fifteen to seventeen, 16 Feb said thirteen current under-fifteen members would be released soon. Former president Gaviria 16 Feb suggested transitional justice model covering FARC members, state forces and “non-combatant sectors” including politicians and businessmen. Proposal received broad political support, but also triggered concerns over impunity for serious crimes. President Santos 19 Feb said some 13,000 judicial processes underway could be covered by transitional justice scheme. U.S. 20 Feb announced appointment of Bernard Aronson, former U.S. Asst Sec State for Inter-American Affairs, as special envoy to talks. Prospects for new talks with ELN suffered setback with 24 Feb confirmation of kidnapping of four employees of geology contracting firm. ELN 11 Feb released Dutch kidnapping victim, 1 March released mayor of Alto Baudó, who they had kidnapped over corruption allegations. Supreme Court 27 Feb convicted former head of secret police DAS, María del Pilar Hurtado, for her role in illegal wiretapping operations during Uribe govt. Clashes during protests in Cauca dept left 44 indigenous and twelve police injured to date.

Venezuela

  |  2 Mar 2015

Deteriorated

Govt 12 Feb said it had thwarted U.S.-backed opposition plot to overthrow President Maduro: some 40 air force members accused of involvement, several arrested. Maduro accused entire opposition Democratic Unity (MUD) leadership of knowing of plot, claimed Primero Justicia party coordinator Julio Borges selected coup bombing targets; accused Caracas mayor and MUD faction leader Antonio Ledezma of playing key role. Ledezma arrested 19 Feb by intelligence agents; U.S., Colombia and Chile expressed concern, human rights bodies and NGOs criticised arrest. MUD said it fears govt may be seeking to create conditions in which it can outlaw opposition parties. Govt also alleged that Borges and Ledezma planned murder of opposition Voluntad Popular party leader Leopoldo López, confined to military prison for past year following accusations he planned violent demonstrations to overthrow Maduro. MUD faction leaders López, Ledezma and former legislator Maria Corina Machado 12 Feb published manifesto calling for “transitional govt”. Fourteen-year-old boy killed 24 Feb during anti-govt student demonstration in San Cristobal, Táchira: President Maduro promised full investigation, policeman arrested and charged with murder. Five other students killed during Feb in Táchira, Mérida and Caracas, some allegedly shot after participating in protests. Month also saw relations further worsening with U.S., with implementation of sanctions against Venezuelan officials, and with Spain.

Mexico

  |  2 Feb 2015

Unchanged

Federal forces 6 Jan clashed with vigilante groups who had taken over city hall of Apatzingán, Michoacán, leaving nine dead. Soldiers 12 Jan used tear gas to disperse parents and protestors trying to enter military base near Iguala, Guerrero in search for students from Ayotzinapa teaching college, missing since Sept. Attorney General Murillo Karam 27 Jan officially declared all 43 students dead, said confessions, witness testimony and physical evidence showed that members of criminal gang had killed them, incinerated bodies and then bagged and thrown ashes in river. Mass graves continue to be found elsewhere in Guerrero region, including ten bodies and eleven decapitated heads 6 Jan. Six dead and eleven wounded 21 Jan in Tamaulipas state during clashes between gunmen and state police. Journalist Moisés Sanchez found dead 24 Jan after being abducted from his home in Veracruz; former municipal police officer confessed to involvement, allegedly at request of mayor.

Haiti

  |  2 Feb 2015

Unchanged

Following failure to pass new electoral law aimed at ending political standoff and enabling long-delayed elections to take place, parliament’s mandate expired 12 Jan; parliament dissolved 13 Jan; and President Martelly began ruling by decree. Martelly 11 Jan reached last-minute deal with opposition to form broad coalition govt, but left-wing Fanmi Lavalas party not included in agreement, accused Martelly of abuse of power. After deal reached with opposition, new “pluralist” govt formed 20 Jan, headed by former presidential candidate Evans Paul; nine-member Provisional Electoral Council installed 23 Jan to organise long-delayed elections. Opposition leaders accused president of failing to deliver consensus govt as president’s allies appointed to key positions. Anti-govt demonstrators again took to streets 8, 11, 22 and 23 Jan demanding Martelly’s resignation. UNSC representatives visited 23-26 Jan to “assess pre-electoral situation”.

Colombia

  |  2 Feb 2015

Unchanged

As FARC continued to maintain unilateral ceasefire, in force since 20 Dec, intensity of conflict has dropped significantly, though opposition alleges FARC continues extortion in stronghold regions. Despite apparent (but not officially acknowledged) reduction of counter-insurgency operations, FARC repeatedly claimed ongoing military attacks threaten ceasefire. President Santos 5 Jan called for ending “disconnection” between Havana talks and violent dynamics in Colombia; 14 Jan ordered negotiators to start discussions on bilateral ceasefire as soon as possible. Parties in Havana 18 Jan agreed next negotiation cycle, due to begin 2 Feb, to focus on mandate and methodology of joint technical sub-commission assigned with proposing ways of ending conflict. Efforts to open parallel peace talks with ELN progressing slowly. ELN 7 Jan reaffirmed willingness to engage in new negotiations and announced that guerrillas would consider disarming in case of successful talks; also made public nomination of group’s possibly most powerful figure Pablo to Central Command (Coce). Coce member Antonio García 16 Jan said parties remain divided over details, but had reached broad agreement on six point agenda. Santos caused stir 26 Jan when not “ruling out” that demobilised FARC members could join a future rural police force; right-wing opposition strongly rejects this option.

Venezuela

  |  2 Feb 2015

Unchanged

Economic crisis continued to worsen, with growing anger over shortages of basic goods; govt continues to blame private sector, however polls show majority blame President Maduro. During two-week trip to China, Russia and Middle East Maduro apparently failed to obtain fresh loans to bridge fiscal gap or secure action by OPEC partners to reverse falling oil prices, despite his claim to have obtained $20bn commitments from China. Signs of greater unity within opposition MUD coalition, overcoming disagreements over whether to take to streets demanding Maduro’s resignation; factions agreed to mobilise protests while avoiding violence. Thousands marched through Caracas 24 Jan in opposition-led protest. Catholic bishops’ conference issued “pastoral exhortation” demanding govt change course and calling for freeing of political prisoners, respect for human rights, transparent institutions; govt dismissed exhortation as party-political document. Authorities 23 Jan prevented former presidents of Colombia and Chile from visiting detained opposition leader Leopoldo López; their respective govts supported visit and demanded respect, Colombia said it hoped for López’s prompt release. Leamsy Salazar, security official close to national assembly president Diosdado Cabello, arrived in U.S. 26 Jan allegedly to give evidence that Cabello and other high ranking Venezuelan officials are involved in drug trafficking.

Guatemala

  |  2 Feb 2015

Unchanged

Former police Commander Pedro García Arredondo convicted 19 Jan for 1980 attack on Spanish embassy in which 37 died. High-risk court 5 Jan suspended retrial of ex-dictator Efaín Ríos Montt for genocide and war crimes; Ríos Montt 13 Jan failed to appear at hearing on case 13 Jan due to ill health. President Pérez Molina 7 Jan promised decision in March regarding future of International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG), scheduled to end operations in Sept 2015. President said in his opinion commission’s work is “coming to an end”. Govt 26 Jan said Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras will need $15bn over next four years to stem illegal migration; proposed “Alliance for Prosperity” calls for investments in border security, highways, electricity and industry.

Mexico

  |  5 Jan 2015

Unchanged

Protests in Guerrero following Sept disappearance of 43 students from Ayotzinapa teachers college continued, including takeovers of state’s electoral institute, radio stations, several highways and police academy. Mexico City police chief resigned 5 Dec amid criticism over handling of protests in capital. Scientists dispute prosecutors’ claim that students’ bodies were incinerated at local dump. Investigation by magazine Proceso published 14 Dec claimed federal police knew about attacks while they were happening but did nothing to stop them. Shootout between rival vigilante groups in La Ruana town, Michoacán state 16 Dec left 11 dead. Those involved included members of rural police force created by govt in April under agreement to disarm “self-defence” groups, and who blocked highways two days earlier demanding authorities to take action against criminal gangs. New ties emerged 11 Dec between finance minister Luis Videgaray and govt contractor at centre of influence-peddling allegations. Raúl Salinas de Gortari, brother of former president, cleared of embezzlement charges 12 Dec. Alleged leader of Jalisco New Generation Cartel Omar Espejo arrested 18 Dec in connection with Nov 2013 disappearance of two federal police.

Haiti

  |  5 Jan 2015

Risk Alert

Political crisis over long-overdue elections intensified. Thousands of protesters 6 Dec clashed with police in Port-au-Prince, demanding President Martelly and PM Lamothe resign and elections be held; Lamothe resigned 14 Dec, further protests took place demanding Martelly’s resignation. Martelly 25 Dec nominated former Port-au-Prince mayor and veteran politician Evans Paul PM in latest attempt to resolve political crisis. To prevent shutdown of govt if elections are not held before 12 Jan, Martelly reached deal with senate and chamber of deputies 30 Dec to extend their mandate; lawmakers still need to approve deal. Fears of violence if parliament shuts down and Martelly rules by decree.

Colombia

  |  5 Jan 2015

Improved

FARC 17 Dec declared unilateral ceasefire entering into force 20 Dec, to be indefinite unless military attacks guerrilla forces; requested national and international monitors to verify ceasefire, including ICRC, UNASUR, Community of Latin American States and civil society umbrella group Broad Front for Peace. Govt welcomed ceasefire but rejected third party verification, said security forces would continue operations; FARC 31 Dec warned that “provocative movements” of state troops could jeopardise ceasefire. Hours before truce entered into force FARC killed five soldiers and captured one in ambush in Cauca department; kidnapped soldier unilaterally released 26 Dec in another “step in the right direction”, according to President Santos. Following temporary suspension triggered by kidnapping of General Alzate, talks in Havana between govt and FARC reinitiated 10 Dec with short-term aim of de-escalating conflict and establishing permanent mechanism to solve future crises. Fifth and last group of conflict victims 16 Dec gave inputs on transitional justice; round ended with commitment to victims’ rights. FARC 18 Dec recognised responsibility for emblematic Bojayá massacre in 2002 and promised reparations. FARC 28 Dec confirmed that Secretariat member and Southern Block commander Joaquín Gómez had joined negotiating team. Santos early Dec called for flexibility to accommodate drug trafficking in connection to political crimes; opposed by Inspector General and opposition. Peace talks with ELN appear remote after ELN commanders 2 Dec referred to continuing “deep differences” with govt, but expectations building again following 29 Dec ELN statement promising “special announcement” for 7 Jan.

Guatemala

  |  5 Jan 2015

Unchanged

International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) postponed dialogue on justice reform, planned for Dec, until Jan. Commissioner Iván Velásquez plans to convene authorities and civil society to discuss laws to strengthen judicial sector. Former dictator Efraín Ríos Montt scheduled to face new trial on charges of genocide and war crimes in Jan. Asset recovery court ordered confiscation of 15 properties belonging to accused drug trafficker Jairo Orellana Morales in Gualán, Zacapa and Petén departments. Guatemala and Belize signed 13 agreements designed to restore trust. Guatemala commemorated 18 years since 1996 peace agreements, but murders in post-conflict period amount to 6,000 per year.

Venezuela

  |  5 Jan 2015

Deteriorated
President Maduro’s govt made key appointments with simple majority vote, violating legal and constitutional requirements designed to ensure that nominees are impartial, and installing govt allies in judiciary and other branches of state. Govt 22 Dec appointed new attorney general, ombudsman and comptroller; 28 Dec appointed 16 new judges to Supreme Court, again by simple majority vote. Supreme Court 27 Dec appointed three new members of electoral commission, retaining 4:1 govt majority. Opposition MUD alliance abstained in all appointments in protest. With price of oil continuing to fall, country seen as at risk of defaulting; central bank end-Dec reported economy in recession, inflation at 63.6% in twelve months to Nov. U.S. President Obama 18 Dec approved sanctions against Venezuelan officials guilty of rights violations during early 2014 opposition protests, including cancellation of visas, freezing of assets; condemned by President Maduro, however announcement by U.S. and Cu-ba that countries would restore relations caused Maduro to moderate temporarily anti-U.S. rhetoric. European Parliament 18 Dec approved resolution condemning political persecution in Venezuela, demanding release of opposition protesters.

Venezuela

  |  1 Dec 2014

Unchanged

Support for President Maduro continues to fall amid severe economic disruption threatened by falling international oil prices, critical shortages of food, medicines and other vital goods. Maduro 28 Nov announced cuts in public spending. Left-wing faction of ruling PSUV, Socialist Tide, in open dissent from official line, may form new party. Relations with Brazil and Colombia worsened. Brazil demanded explanations over Venezuela’s former FM signing agreement with its Landless Movement and allegedly recruiting Brazilians for political propaganda in Venezuela. Tensions with Colombia over allegations that murdered PSUV legislator Robert Serra was killed by Colombian paramilitaries in a counter-revolutionary plot. Colombian ambassador claimed leader of “El Colombia” gang who allegedly killed Serra was Venezuelan with no paramilitary links. Venezuela early Nov appeared before UN Committee Against Torture, facing allegations of torture during public disturbances earlier this year. Club de Madrid 25 Nov demanded immediate release of Leopoldo Lopez and other opposition leaders in prison, asked for restoration of rule of law.

Mexico

  |  1 Dec 2014

Unchanged

Amid anger over alleged involvement of local officials in disappearance of 43 students from Ayotzinapa teachers college who disappeared in Iguala, Guerrero 26 Sept, President Peña Nieto 27 Nov announced security policy overhaul that would dissolve municipal police forces, placing them under control of state govts. Other proposed measures included legislation allowing federal govt to take over municipalities infiltrated by organised crime. Tens of thousands of protestors marched through Mexico City 20 Nov demanding justice for students. Protesters and relatives of students blame Peña Nieto’s govt for failing to curb corruption and violence. March mostly peaceful, though some clashes with police. Anger over disappearances sparked further marches, vigils and protests throughout country. Protestors in Guerrero and Michoacán states attacked and occupied municipal buildings, ransacked party HQ, 10 Nov shut down Acapulco airport. Attorney General Murillo Karam 7 Nov announced that members of Guerreros Unidos gang admitted killing of students after they were turned over to gang by police; bodies still missing. Over 70 suspects including three dozen police arrested. Prosecutors say Iguala mayor José Luis Abarca, who allegedly has ties to criminal gangs, ordered police to detain students; Abarca fled but arrested 4 Nov in Mexico City. Eleven decapitated bodies found 27 Nov in city of Chilapa, some 160km from place where Ayotzinapa students went missing.

Guatemala

  |  1 Dec 2014

Unchanged

Authorities 20 Nov announced arrests of nine people including alleged leader of criminal group Haroldo Mendoza, for crimes including murders and disappearances. Constitutional Court (CC) 19 Nov confirmed appointment of Supreme and appellate court judges, rejecting challenges filed by civil society groups. CC 12 Nov held hearing over irregularities in process, including conflicts of interest, political interference, lack of public debate, failure to investigate candidates’ background; International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) also criticised absence of serious debate and vetting. CC also rejected accusations against lawmaker Gudy Rivera who allegedly pressured appeals court judgeto issue ruling that favoured governing party.

Colombia

  |  1 Dec 2014

Deteriorated

FARC 30 Nov liberated army General Alzate, army lawyer and corporal, whose kidnapping had prompted President Santos to suspend peace talks 16 Nov; despite release of the three, impact of temporary suspension of talks on peace process uncertain. FARC 25 Nov also released two soldiers, captured in Arauca 9 Nov. FARC considered captured military personnel prisoners of war, govt insisted they were victims of kidnapping. FARC’s commander in chief “Timochenko” 24 Nov slammed suspension for “destroying confidence” in peace process. Tensions high after FARC 5 Nov killed two guards of indigenous Nasa community in Cauca; indigenous court 9 Nov sentenced five FARC members to up to 60 years’ imprisonment. Trial criticised by UN; FARC stated regret for guards’ deaths but regard trial as biased. FARC 30 Oct admitted their actions have adversely affected civilian population, but saying they did not target civilians or commit war crimes. Transport paralysed in Chocó after ELN 25 Nov initiated “armed strike” in region.

Haiti

  |  1 Dec 2014

Unchanged

Legislative and municipal elections, already three years overdue, postponed indefinitely 26 Oct as parliament unable to agree on implementation of “El Rancho Accord” signed by President Martelly, opposition parties, and civil society groups in March. If elections not held by year-end, Martelly will rule by decree. Protesters marched through Port-Au-Prince 18 Nov demanding Martelly's resignation and chance to vote. At least one person killed as bullets fired on protestors; some sources claim gunfire from govt forces, others from govt supporters. During 29 Nov demonstration protesters demanded resignation of president and PM. Escalated crime-related violence in different regions. Report of UNSG on MINUSTAH announced peacekeeping force set to downsize from 5,021 to 2,370 in June 2015. UN report 26 Nov revealed 32 died, over 15,000 infected by cholera outbreak during 2014.

Venezuela

  |  1 Nov 2014

Deteriorated

MP for ruling PSUV party Robert Serra and assistant murdered 1 Oct; President Maduro accused national opposition parties then group of Colombian paramilitaries of killing Serra; media reported criminal gang perpetrators; several arrested. Police and pro-govt “colectivos” militia Shield of the Revolution clashed in Caracas 8 Oct after detectives from judicial police (CICPC) raided building run by militia; 5militiamen killed; former policeman and leader of “5 th of March” colectivo José Odreman shot dead. Interior Justice Minister Rodriguez Torres, accused by collectives of ordering Odreman’s assassination, dismissed 24 Oct; colectivos subsequently called for National Assembly president’s dismissal, threatened regime. Maduro 28 Oct announced creation of Presidential Commission for transformation of police,additional measures to transform armed forces. Economy further deteriorated with rapid fall in oil prices raising possibility of default on country’s external debt. Process of appointing Supreme Court judges and electoral authority board members moved forward with formation of nominations committees 30 Sept, 14 Oct, complaints they are dominated by members of ruling PSUV.

Mexico

  |  1 Nov 2014

Deteriorated

Federal authorities 19 Oct took over policing in thirteen municipalities in Guerrero and Mexico states. In Guerrero, federal forces, local police continued to search mountains for 43 students who disappeared 26 Sept from Iguala town after being arrested by police allegedly in league with organised crime; authorities discovered 11 mass graves with 38 bodies, identification ongoing. 36 local police, dozens others including members of criminal group Guerreros Unidos arrested; Guerrero governor resigned, authorities 22 Oct issued arrest warrants for Iguala mayor, wife and police chief. Case sparked protests, condemnation by human rights organisations, accusations govt response too slow: thousands 17 Oct demonstrated peacefully in Acapulco; protesters 22 Oct set fire to Iguala’s city hall. Six killed, four arrested in clash between army and civilians in Luvianos State 30 Oct. Govt 1 Oct announced Héctor Beltrán Leyva, reported leader of Beltrán Leyva cartel, arrested; Vicente Carrillo Fuentes, “The Viceroy”, reported leader of Juárez cartel, arrested 9 Oct. Nineteen suspected cartel gunmen killed 21 Oct by police in Tamaulipas state. Two gunmen 11 Oct killed local activist Atilano Román Tirado in Sinaloa state; physician who tweeted updates about criminal violence kidnapped and killed 15 Oct in Tamaulipas state.

Guatemala

  |  1 Nov 2014

Unchanged

Guatemala Constitutional Court 9 Oct suspended Supreme and Appelate Court judge swearing-in ceremonies to consider legal challenges to process; 18 Oct opened 8-day period for groups questioning selection process to present evidence of irregularities. Appellate court judge Claudia Escobar resigned 5 Oct, denounced political interference in judicial selection process, provided evidence of bribery attempt against ruling Patriot Party congressman Gudy Rivera; Rivera denied accusations, threatened legal action. Supreme Court 29 Oct filed injunction against President Molina and Finance Minister Dorval Carias over financial mismanagement including lack of funds in state institutions, inability to pay civil service salaries. Molina 15 Oct said Guatemala may ease punishments for minor narcotics-related offenses, exploring regulated production of marijuana and opium poppies for medical use.

Colombia

  |  1 Nov 2014

Unchanged

Further negotiations on transitional justice and preliminaries on bilateral ceasefire opened 24 Oct; FARC 26 Oct proposed creation of “national census of victims” of armed conflict. Prior, FARC had reshuffled its delegation; newcomers include secretariat members Pastor Alape and Carlos Antonio Lozada. ELN 21 Oct released kidnapped local politician from Norte de Santander with message to govt to expedite talks after ELN commander Pablito 15 Oct said exploratory talks made little progress. ELN’s Central Command 20 Oct suggested negotiations would be held separately from FARC-govt talks. Ex-high commissioner for peace Frank Pearl withdrawn from Havana to focus on bringing ELN into process. Tensions between President Santos and ex-President Uribe continued: Uribe accused of hypocrisy over opposition to current negotiations after journalist 4 Oct published article documenting Uribe administration’s attempts to establish negotiations with FARC and ELN. Inspector General Ordóñez 23 Oct called for broad dialogue on peace process between govt, FARC and Uribe’s supporters. Santos agreed with Ordóñez’s three minimum conditions for viable peace: that FARC dissolves as criminal organisation after signing peace treaty, accepts its responsibility for numerous crimes, it attends to rights of victims. National Peace Council 8 Oct held first session since disbanded in 2002, composed of representatives from civil society organisations, indigenous peoples, Catholic Church, govt.

Ecuador

  |  1 Oct 2014

Unchanged

Thousands rallied for and against President Correa mid-Sept in Quito, after a protest called by largest trade unions federation; at least 15 police wounded, several protesters arrested, of whom 53 remain detained. President Correa 23 Sept forced to reshuffle cabinet due to unexpected resignation of minister of defence.

Guatemala

  |  1 Oct 2014

Unchanged

Authorities 3 Sept arrested national director of prisons and 6 others following year-long investigation by public prosecutors, police and International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) into alleged collaboration with criminal network led by inmate Byron Lima, ex-army captain serving 20-year sentence for assassination of Bishop Juan Gerardi. President Pérez Molina 8 Sept said would not ask for extension of CICIG’s mandate; VP Baldetti 18 Sept said govt would consult with civil society groups on matter; extension would need agreement between govt and UN, and international funding. CICIG Commissioner Velásquez 16 Sept questioned selection process for appellate and Supreme Court justices citing serious irregularities; critics say process subject to manipulation by political and economic interests including organised crime.

Colombia

  |  1 Oct 2014

Unchanged

29th round of govt-FARC negotiations began 23 Sept; parties 24 Sept published full texts of 3 outline agreements reached thus far in “measure of transparency”. Previous cycle ended 10 Sept; FARC 9 Sept presented proposals on transitional justice. FARC 2 Sept announced creation of “Guerrilla Normalisation Command” to “study the army’s return to its constitutional role” following late Aug govt creation of “Transition Command” to oversee the guerrilla’s disarmament. FARC 20 Sept assumed responsibility for 16 Sept attack on police convoy in Córdoba which left 7 police dead, rejected allegations attack carried out in alliance with Urabeños armed group. Senator Clara Rojas, kidnapped by FARC in 2002 for 6 years, 8 Sept resigned seat in Congressional peace commission in protest at statement appearing on FARC website questioning whether she should be considered a FARC victim. Some 120 Colombian and transnational companies 8 Sept launched large reconciliation campaign “Soy CaPAZ”, first major public statement in favour of peace process from private sector. Left-wing senator Iván Cepeda 17 Sept accused former president Uribe of collusion with paramilitaries and drug traffickers; accusation caused major political upheaval, string of counter accusations and law suits. Govt’s chief negotiator 27 Sept said his communications had been wiretapped illegally. Paramilitary groups Aguilas Negras and Los Rastrojos throughout month issued “hit list” threatening over 150 political leaders, activists and journalists.

Mexico

  |  1 Oct 2014

Unchanged

300 members of the newly created Gendarmerie, elite mobile federal police force, sent 8 Sept to Tierra Caliente, Michoacán, to bolster federal forces and a recently created rural police force led by former self-defence militia members. Attacks on journalists continued: assailants 2 Sept opened fire in house of reporter Ignacio Domínguez in Veracruz; reporter Víctor Pérez found dead 3 Sept in Ciudad Juárez; reporter Karla Silva assaulted 4 Sept in Silao, Guanajuato. Federal Congressman Gabriel Gómez Michel kidnapped 22 Sept in Guadalajara, found dead 23 Sept in Zacatecas. Opposition PAN party Gen Sec in Guerrero, Braulio Zaragoza, killed 28 Sept. 8 soldiers arrested 26 Sept over killing of 22 suspected kidnappers in June, charged with military disobedience and breach of duty, 3 of them charged with homicide. Shootout between rival gangs 26 Sept killed 11 suspected gang members near town of Guachochi, Chihuahua. 6 killed 27 Sept when police and unidentified armed men opened fire during clash with students in Iguala, Guerrero; 58 students reported missing following clash; 22 police officers arrested.

Venezuela

  |  1 Oct 2014

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President Maduro 2 Sept reshuffled cabinet: FM Elias Jaua, prominent figure on hard left, moved to ministry of communes and appointed “VP for development of territorial socialism” in push toward “communal state”. Economic reformer Rafael Ramírez removed from posts as energy minister, chairman of state oil corporation and VP for economic affairs; removal suggests Ramirez’s economic reform programe shelved. Economic deterioration continued; reported scarcity of basic goods; Venezuelan debt downgraded to CCC+ following slump in bond prices. Jesús “Chúo” Torrealba appointed as opposition MUD Exec Sec following 30 July resignation of Ramón Guillermo amid internal divisions; Torrealba 24 Sept said MUD open to dialogue with govt, but that opposition would intensify “social activism” including national march 4 Oct.

Colombia

  |  1 Sep 2014

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President Santos sworn in for 2nd term 7 Aug; promised successful conclusion of peace negotiations in near future but also warned FARC his patience with continued attacks on civilian infrastructure not “indefinite”. 27th cycle of Cuba-based govt-FARC peace negotiations ended 22 Aug with significant progress in transitional justice discussions. Joint statement called first of five meetings between conflict victims and negotiators 16 Aug “watershed moment”; success helped to reduce tensions over composition of victims’ delegation. Clarification Commission on the Conflict and its Victims 21 Aug began working on academic report examining causes and effects of conflict. Sub-commission of military and civilian experts travelled to Havana 22 Aug to start consultations on the “End of the Conflict”, last substantive agenda item. Commission member Gen Javier Flórez 25 Aug resigned from Joint Chiefs of Staff to work full time on peace process. Constitutional Court 6 Aug upheld for second time Legal Framework for Peace, main legal base for current talks. “We are Defenders” activist group 18 Aug reported decrease in murders of human rights activists in first quarter of 2014 to 30 killed, but increase in number of attacks. President Santos 25 Aug called for investigations into “criminal ring” after detained presidential campaign advisor for opposition claimed in 23 Aug interview he received orders to spy, inter alia, on politicians and peace talks. Prosecutor 28 Aug announced 32 local politicians arrested for alleged ties to right-wing paramilitary groups. Authorities 26 Aug released “Popeye”, former head of Medellin cartel hitmen and right hand of Pablo Escobar, from prison, after having served 22 of a 30-year sentence.

Guatemala

  |  1 Sep 2014

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3 died during several days of clashes in north following 15 Aug arrest of peasant leaders accused of stealing electricity; authorities report 6 police wounded and more than 20 residents arrested. Army chief Rudy Ortiz killed 20 Aug in helicopter crash near Mexico border. News report published 11 Aug claimed more than 1,000 grenades reported stolen from army air base in Petén department instead sold to drug traffickers and other criminal organisations.

Mexico

  |  1 Sep 2014

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President Peña Nieto 22 Aug unveiled new unit of federal police known as “Gendarmerie”, a 5,000-strong rapid-response force that will be used to protect key economic interests from outbreaks of violent crime. Dalia Santana Pineda, Mayor of Huetamo, Michoacán, arrested 14 Aug on charges of homicide and extortion, reportedly collaborated with Knights Templar cartel. New 500-member “citizen” police squad inaugurated in Michoacán 18 Aug will take over local law enforcement in state capital and 2 other municipalities, eventually replacing municipal police throughout Michoacán. News editor Octavio Rojas Hernández killed 11 Aug in Oaxaca. Authorities reportedly began rounding up undocumented Central American migrants along southern border.

Venezuela

  |  1 Sep 2014

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Tensions remained within ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) following late-July endorsement of President Maduro as party chairman; some dissident factions expressed intention to demand “respect for the legacy of Chávez”. Opposition Democratic Unity alliance (MUD) also divided following July resignation of Ramón Guillermo Aveledo as executive sec; successor will be chosen in Sept; radicals pressing ahead with plan for “citizens’ congress” in Oct despite scepticism among moderates. Economic decline continued: reported leak from central bank suggested GDP shrunk by 4% to 5.5% in first half of 2014; annual inflation remains above 70%. Introduction of rationing cards with biometric system for access to basic staples announced; health sector in crisis according to National Medicine Academy. President Maduro 1 Aug met Colombian counterpart at Cartagena summit, discussed smuggling; govt 11 Aug unilaterally announced closure of borders between 2 countries from 10pm until 5am; communities around major crossing points staged protests.

Ecuador

  |  1 Aug 2014

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Attorney General Galo Chiriboga 9 July highlighted ongoing security crisis in northern provinces bordering Colombia during meeting with security agencies, reported homicide rates far exceeding national average in San Lorenzo, Esmeraldas province, and Putumayo, Sucumbíos province.

Colombia

  |  1 Aug 2014

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Govt and FARC 17 July reached agreement on mechanisms for victims’ participation in transitional justice discussions; Cuba-based peace talks will resume 12 Aug, with first victims’ delegation expected in Havana 16 Aug. Three regional forums held 4-18 July prepared inputs amid heated debate over the alleged underrepresentation of FARC victims. National Liberation Army (ELN) 4 July celebrated 50th anniversary with string of attacks and three-day “armed strike” in north-eastern stronghold regions. President Santos 29 July warned intensifying guerrilla offensive could lead to rupture of talks; Southern Putumayo department particularly hit, with repeated FARC attacks on oil and transport trucks causing significant environmental damage. Police 20 July detained leader of FARC’s 30th Front in Cauca Valley. Dissident group of demobilised EPL guerrillas asked in 25 July open letter to join current peace process. Jailed AUC leader “Macaco” 25 July called for revision of transitional justice rules amid growing concerns over approaching liberations of paramilitaries having served 8-year maximum prison sentences ordered under special legislation. President Santos 20 July inaugurated newly elected Congress likely to play crucial role in implementing future peace agreements.

Guatemala

  |  1 Aug 2014

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President Pérez Molina 25 July visited Washington, met with U.S. President Obama, Honduras and El Salvador counterparts, discussed detention of migrant children at U.S. border, efforts to deter illegal migration, development and security in Central America, and asked the U.S. to grant “Temporary Protected Status” (TPS) to Guatemalan migrants. Former guerrilla leader Fermín Felipe Solano Barillas sentenced 4 July to 90 years in prison for massacre of 22 indigenous villagers in 1988; first conviction of former leftist guerrilla for human rights abuses during decades-long conflict. Task Force Chortí, composed of 200 police and 100 soldiers, 10 July began operations to combat drug trafficking, smuggling along borders with Honduras and Belize.

Mexico

  |  1 Aug 2014

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President Peña Nieto 7 July announced joint border program with Guatemala designed to safeguard human rights, combat crime along border; Mexico to create “integrated attention centres” to coordinate flow of goods and people, facilitate legal migration for Guatemala and Belize citizens. Leader of governing Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) in Nuevo Urecho, Michoacán state, killed 25 July by suspected drug cartel gunmen. Senate late July passed 4 bills to reform national oil company Pemex and state-owned power company CFE, set up regulatory bodies to oversee direct foreign investment in energy sector. Over 30 police officers arrested 26 July in Michoacán, accused of links to organised crime.

Venezuela

  |  1 Aug 2014

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Opposition leader Ramon Aveledo resigned 29 July as opposition alliance remained divided over how to oppose President Maduro’s regime: more radical wing continued to push for constitutional assembly; moderates led by Henrique Capriles advocate focus on building electoral support. Ruling United Socialist Pary of Venezuela (PSUV) also divided: Rafael Ramírez, energy minister and chairman of state oil corporation, increasingly influential following June sacking of planning minister and radical leftist Jorge Giordani. Party congress held late July elected Maduro as party leader; calls from dissidents to debate internal democracy, corruption accusations brushed aside. Military gaining influence: keynote speech at 5 July independence day ceremony in parliament given for first time by military general, Vladimir Padrino López, who declared the military to be “chavista”, or supportive of left-wing political ideology of former president Chávez. U.S. 30 July announced travel ban on 24 high-ranking Venezuelan officials including cabinet ministers citing human rights abuses during crackdown on opposition protests. Former intelligence chief Gen Hugo Carvajal arrested 23 July in Aruba on U.S. drugs charges, freed following Venezuelan pressure.

Colombia

  |  1 Jul 2014

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President Santos secured re-election in 15 June presidential runoff, beating Uribist-Democratic Centre candidate Óscar Zuluaga in narrow 51%-45% victory; polls relatively peaceful, reflecting FARC’s 7 June ceasefire declaration. Results seen as boost for peace process. Govt 10 June confirmed exploratory talks with National Liberation Army (ELN) underway since Jan; also confirmed agreements for future agenda on transitional justice and participation of society. FARC, govt 7 June presented landmark “Declaration of Principles” to guide discussions on transitional justice (5th point on Havana agenda); amid highly polarised political debate, key message was pledge that parties would not mutually grant themselves impunity. Parties also recognised victims’ rights to truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-repetition will not be up for negotiation, but talks will focus upon how best to satisfy them. In exchange for ruling out impunity, govt gave in to longstanding FARC demands to set up exploratory commission to look into historical narrative of conflict. Both sides agreed to receive delegation of victims of armed conflict in Havana.

Guatemala

  |  1 Jul 2014

Unchanged

Former chief of National Civil Police (PNC) Erwin Sperisen 6 June sentenced by Swiss court to life imprisonment for execution of 7 prisoners during police raid in El Pavon prison outside Guatemala City in 2006; defence team appealing verdict. 3 ex-policemen arrested 10 June for participating in killing of fellow police officer investigating 1990 murder of Myrna Mack, anthropologist who documented human rights violations during Guatemala’s civil war.

Mexico

  |  1 Jul 2014

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Ongoing insecurity in Michoacán region: rural policeman and ex-self-defence militia member found murdered along with family 19 June; masked men 5 June kidnapped and killed local Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) leader in Erongarícuaro town. Another PRI leader murdered in neighbouring Guerrero state 15 June. Michoacán Governor Fausto Vallejo 18 June announced resignation due to health problems, days after media circulated photo purportedly showing son with top drug trafficker. Secretary of Govt Osorio Chong 9 June said security strategy implemented last month in north-eastern state of Tamaulipas already reduced crime, violence in state. Authorities 18 June announced police arrested alleged Gulf drug cartel leader Juan Manuel Rodríguez in Reynosa, and marines captured alleged Zetas leader Ricardo Iván Santillán Trejo in Ciudad Mante. Security forces 30 June killed 22 gang members, allegedly from La Familia Michoacana cartel, in SW Mexico state.

Venezuela

  |  1 Jul 2014

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Dialogue between govt and opposition Democratic Unity (MUD), which began early March and was suspended by opposition in May, failed to restart. Govt rebuffed demands for release of Iván Simonovis, arrested in 2004 and sentenced in 2009 for alleged complicity in attempted coup against former President Chávez, and other political prisoners. Preliminary agreements reached on formation of broad-based truth commission and renewal of Supreme Court (TSJ), electoral authority (CNE) and other nominally autonomous powers, so far failed to bear fruit. MUD’s more radical wing proposed constituent assembly as way forward; student movement yet to take a decision on matter. Street protests which began mid-Feb significantly diminished, but economic crisis continues to affect govt’s popularity: one leaked poll, which concluded mid-May, gave Maduro less than 35% support. Dismissal of long-serving planning Minister Jorge Giordani 18 June and replacement with economist Ricardo Menendez provoked left-wing backlash which threatens regime unity as ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) prepares for 3rd congress in late July.

Ecuador

  |  1 Jun 2014

Unchanged

On 24 May President Correa announced that he was backing a constitutional amendment which would allow him and other state representatives to run for re-election indefinitely.

Colombia

  |  1 Jun 2014

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Govt, FARC representatives 16 May reached preliminary agreement on drug policies, 3rd issue under discussion in Havana peace talks; parties agreed, inter alia, on national crop substation program and demining initiative; first time FARC has implicitly recognised wider links to drug-economy. Agreement followed 16 May historic announcement of joint FARC/ELN unilateral ceasefire 20-28 May. Óscar Iván Zuluaga, peace talks sceptic, won first round of presidential elections 25 May; faces incumbent President Santos in 15 June run-off. Turnout historically low at 40%. Video released 17 May showed Zuluaga apparently discussing ways to use classified military intelligence to undermine peace process; followed 6 May arrest of Zuluaga campaign aide for allegedly spying on Santos and FARC negotiator email accounts. Santos’ chief campaign manager resigned 5 May, accused of having received $12mn from notorious drug trafficker. Ombudsman’s Office 12 May said some 2,500 indigenous people from High Baudó region (Chocó) displaced by fighting between ELN and NIAG Urabeños. Police 30 May arrested 46 NIAG Rastrojos members in Barranquilla, Atlantico dept. Govt 8 May created national platform to discuss peasant demands established during March meeting of “Agrarian Summit”, end new wave of social protests; FARC 13 May praised grassroots organisations for achieving “formidable triumph".

Venezuela

  |  1 Jun 2014

Unchanged

Tensions remained high: opposition Democratic Unity (MUD) alliance coordinator 13 May said talks with govt "in crisis"; President Maduro 14 May said he had no intention of abandoning talks, hoped MUD would reciprocate. Regional FMs acting as negotiation facilitators visited, held meetings with both sides 18 May in bid to break deadlock but no progress made. Intensity of student-led protests continued to decline, but no easing of repression on part of security forces: 4 “peace camps” set up by protesters in different parts of Caracas violently dismantled 8 May.

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CrisisWatch N°140

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